Richard Gasquet rewrote his legacy in the quarterfinals of the 2013 U.S. Open.
Gasquet entered his match against fourth-ranked David Ferrer on Wednesday notorious for having failed in the quarterfinal round of past tournaments and for rarely having ever beaten Ferrer.
That all changed in one fell swoop at Flushing Meadows, as Gasquet upended Ferrer, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3. The U.S. Open's official Twitter account noted Gasquet's historical achievement:
The tweet wasn't mistaken. This is the first time that Gasquet will appear in a semifinal match in six years. As Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline writes, it will mark just the second time he has appeared in the semifinal of a Grand Slam:
Richard Gasquet rewrites, at least for today, the story of his career. B2B 5-setters, d Ferrer 63 61 46 26 63 to make 2nd Slam SF. #usopen— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) September 4, 2013
Before outworking Ferrer, who owned an 8-1 head-to-head advantage over Gasquet, the No. 8 seed had held just a 1-15 all-time record in fourth-round matches of Grand Slam events. Gasquet's victory over Ferrer and his preceding win over Milos Raonic in the fourth round marked the first time in his career that Gasquet has won back-to-back five-set matches.
For Gasquet to continue to advance through the tournament, he will have to beat Rafael Nadal in the semifinals on Saturday after Nadal swept Tommy Robredo in their quarterfinal Wednesday night.
Nadal is undefeated on hard courts this year and appears to have all of his injury woes in the rearview mirror. He owns a 10-0 advantage over Gasquet in head-to-head competition.
There was a point in time when Gasquet was considered the next big thing in men's tennis after turning pro in 2002. He pointed out, via Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press, that he has not defeated Nadal since he was a teenager.
It was a big match for me...I started very well and I thought he was a little bit nervous with the wind, but he is a big fighter...I think I have experience of five sets, I played them a lot in my life, and I knew I had to serve well in the fifth. It's a big match for me, a big, big victory. It means a lot. I'm 27, the last time I did it I was 21. I practised hard for it, it's wonderful for me.
Gasquet has experience in matches that go the distance, all right. He's now 7-12 in matches that go five sets.
However, that won't get it done against Nadal.
It almost did not work out against Ferrer. Gasquet took a two-sets advantage before Ferrer came roaring back to win the third and fourth sets. While Gasquest managed to get his act back together just in time, it may not be enough in the semifinal round.
Will Richard Gasquet win in the semifinals?
Gasquet's groundstrokes allow him to compete against anyone, but it's clearly the mental side of things that the 27-year-old Frenchman has to master.
The last time Gasquet advanced to a semifinal was in 2007 at Wimbledon where Roger Federer bounced him with relative ease.
It sounds so simple, but Gasquet has to keep his head on his shoulders and his game consistent. With two days of rest to re-focus on the task at hand, Gasquet has the tools to buck history and continue to rewrite his legacy.
Only time will tell if Gasquet will properly put those tools to use.
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